17-Year-Old Boy Scout Built a Veterans Memorial for His Hometown.
By: Weston Ma
When 17-year-old Dominique Claseman realized that his hometown did not have a veteran’s memorial, he decided to act. The town he lives in is called Olivia, Minn, and many of the residents are veterans. His parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents served. "It's just never-ending," said Domonique while talking about his family’s history in the military.
When it was time to choose a topic for his eagle scout project, he decided to give Olivia its very own veterans memorial. His dad, Mark Jurgensen, said he expected his son to have huge plans. Mark is the Scoutmaster of Dominique’s troop. "I told Dominique when he was starting to kind of talk about his Eagle Scout project that because he's the Scoutmaster's son that he needs to go big or go home," Jurgensen said.
"I was originally picturing just a walkway with 21 boot steps and pavers on the side, along with a main stone and a couple flags," Claseman said. He believed it would cost around 15 thousand dollars. For an eagle scout project, participants aren’t allowed to use digital communication, so instead of using fundraising websites, he used flyers and spoke at events.
"Pretty much it was either word-of-mouth or going door to door," Claseman said. However, his efforts prevailed, and the community loved his idea so much that they donated much more than $15,000. After the donations ended, the total amounted to $77,777.
He made his design fit the budget and then got to work. The memorial had its grand opening on Memorial Day. The memorial had 280 granite plaques on either side of the plague leading up to flag poles and benches surrounded by neatly trimmed plants.
"By the time everything was said and done, he definitely went big," said Mark.. His neighbors expressed gratitude for what he had done for the town. "There's one person that came up to me, and they said that they are so happy to see this," Claseman said. "They've been living in this town for 10 to 15 years, and they were waiting for something like this to even happen."
Dominique’s favorite part of the memorial is the 21 boot prints leading to the flagpoles, which represent the 21-gun salute. His father helped by putting on his old combat boots and stepping in the wet cement. "It was nice being able to be part of that," Mark said. "Being a veteran myself, getting that peace out there for other veterans, that their families have a place to go to remember their service or remember their loved ones."